THE FUNCTION OF FAITH—SUBSTANTIATION
Perhaps you may ask, "Why would the Holy Spirit communicate to us all of God’s work in His Word when we believe in this Word?" The words in 1 John that we just read tell us what faith is. That is the work of faith. But what is the function of faith? The function of faith is the substantiation of the Lord’s work in us. This is what Hebrews 11 shows us. Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the substantiation of things hoped for." The King James Version translates this word as the noun "substance," but in the original language it is not a noun but a gerund, a verbal noun. Darby’s translation renders it "substantiating." This is not a noun but a gerund from a verb. This kind of gerund is used often. For example, in the church there is the "overseeing" by the elders. This overseeing is not a noun but a gerund. "Substantiating" is also used in the same way. Faith is a substantiating. Do not underestimate this translation. I have been looking for ten years without finding a suitable word. Then, when I discovered Darby’s use of "substantiating," I think I came across the best translation. Everything in the world, whether animals, plants, or minerals, has to be substantiated by us. While we live on the earth, we are constantly substantiating things around us. My eyes substantiate every sight and color. While I am speaking here, some brothers and sisters who are hard of hearing do not know what I am talking about. They only see my mouth moving. I have the words, but they lack the substantiating. I have the substance, but they do not have the power of substantiating it. They cannot substantiate my word in themselves. If there were a singer or some wonderful music here, I could substantiate it with my ears. When our hands touch something, we know that it is smooth or coarse. Our nose can identify a good or a bad smell. Our tongue can identify a sweet or a salty taste. All these are substantiations. All the organs in the human body are doing the work of substantiating.
What is faith? Faith is not making something out of nothing. Faith is substantiating what is there. Faith is not daydreaming or the speaking of a dream. Faith is to manifest what is there already. This is why Hebrews says that faith is the substantiating of things hoped for. The word "things" should be translated "substance." Although they cannot be seen, it does not mean that they are not there. The greatest problem of man today is that he does not have the substantiating ability. As a result, he doubts the reality of the things. If you tell a person who has lost his taste buds to take a sweet drink, he will say that it tastes like some soy sauce he just drank. This is to have the substance without the substantiation. All the spiritual things are there. God has placed all His works in His Word. If you have faith, you will substantiate them.
We who are preaching the gospel are not preaching nonexistent things. The problem today is that many will not substantiate them. In Christ I am full of substance. But many would not substantiate these things. Tonight we have two brothers here who cannot see. I can say that this book is black and that book is brown. When they touch these books, the two are the same to them. You can tell that one is black and another is brown because you can see, but to them there is no distinction between black and brown. If they ask me what black is, I can only say that black is black. I cannot explain it. There is no way to explain it. What is the difficulty? The difficulty lies in their lack of the substantiating ability. It is the same way with us before God. Many are like deaf or blind people. When you talk to them about spiritual things, they say that they do not feel this or that. They have no way to substantiate those things.
Hence, what is faith? The apostle told us clearly that the function of faith is to substantiate the spiritual things. Something was not there with you. Now it is there. Today we are living in a physical world, but God has put all the spiritual things in His Word. The Word of God is full of the things of God. Do not take the Word of God that lightly. Even eternity is in the Word of God. What is the function of faith? The function of faith is to manifest spiritual things in the same way that eyes manifest shapes and colors, ears manifest sounds, and the nose manifests smells. Faith manifests spiritual things. This is why God wants us to have faith.
(Gospel of God, The (2 volume set), Chapter 14, by Watchman Nee)